The District Administration Scheme commenced in 1982 with the establishment
of a District Board and a District Management Committee in each district.
Through the scheme, the Government promotes public participation in district
affairs and fosters among the people of Hong Kong a sense of belonging
and mutual care. The scheme also helps to ensure that the Government is
responsive to district needs and problems. Following the 1998 review of
the structure and functions of district organisations, District Boards
have been renamed, in English, as District Councils, to underline their
important role in district administration.
The second District Council Election of the Hong Kong
Special Administrative Region was held on November 23, 2003, returning
400 elected members. On January 1, 2004, the second term of the District
Councils commenced. In addition to the 400 elected members, there are
27 ex officio members (i.e. Rural Committee chairmen in the New
Territories) and 102 appointed members, making a total of 529 District
Council members. The term of office of these council members is for four
years starting from January 2004.
The main function of District Councils is to advise
the Government on matters affecting the well-being of the people living
and working in the districts as well as on the provision and use of public
facilities and services within the districts. The Government also consults
these bodies on a wide range of issues.
Since the establishment of District Councils in January
2000, their roles and functions have been enhanced progressively. The
Government completed a comprehensive review of the District Councils in
2001 and implemented by the end of that year a package of recommendations
to further enhance the roles and functions of District Councils. Funds
for District Councils to implement community involvement and minor environmental
improvement projects in the districts have been increased from $130 million
in 1999-2000 to $205.6 million in 2003-04.
To enhance communication between District Councils
and policy bureaux and departments, Policy Secretaries and Heads of Departments
who deal with matters affecting people's livelihood will meet the councils
regularly and these departments have assigned specific officers to provide
'one-stop' services for District Councils and to handle their complaints.
Policy bureaux and departments are required to consult District Councils
on policy initiatives and capital works projects affecting the well-being
of the community and to reflect the views of District Councils to the
approving authorities. The 18 District Councils were consulted on 385
territory-wide issues and 1 968 district issues in 2003.
To further enhance District Council members' participation
in the planning and implementation of district minor works projects, the
chairmanship of District Working Groups of the Rural Public Works and
the Urban Minor Works Programmes has been devolved to District Council
members with effect from January 1, 2003. The chairmanship of the two
Steering Committees will also be devolved to District Council members
in due course. The Government has also appointed more District Council
members to advisory bodies, especially those connected with livelihood
All the measures have helped to substantially enhance
the role of District Councils as the Government's key advisers on district
affairs and strengthen their ability to influence the provision, delivery
and management of district services and facilities. This helps ensure
that the Government remains accountable and responsive to the changing
needs of the community.
Each District Council operates a meet-the-public scheme,
under which residents can meet council members face to face to express
their views on any district problems. The scheme has been well received
by the public. It also provides District Councils a direct channel to
collect public views on local matters and region-wide issues, which the
councils can in turn reflect to the Government.
Each district has a District Management Committee,
chaired by the District Officer, comprising the Chairman, Vice Chairman
and committee chairmen of the District Council and representatives of
departments providing essential services in the district. The District
Management Committee serves as a forum for inter-departmental consultation
on district matters and coordinates the provision of public services and
facilities to ensure that district needs are met promptly. The District
Officer reports regularly the work of the District Management Committee
to the District Council.
Area Committees were set up in 1972 to support the
Keep Hong Kong Clean Campaign and the Fight Violent Crime Campaign. Nowadays,
the functions of Area Committees are to encourage public participation
in district affairs, to help organise community activities and government
campaigns, and to advise on issues of a local nature.
Mutual Aid Committees are building-based resident
organisations, established to improve the security, cleanliness and general
management of multi-storey buildings. At year-end, there were 73 Area
Committees and 3 121 Mutual Aid Committees. They provide
an extensive network of communication between the Government and the people
at the grassroots level.
Apart from Mutual Aid Committees, the Government also
devotes time and effort to helping owners of private multi-storey buildings
to form Owners' Corporations to facilitate effective management and timely
maintenance of the buildings concerned. At year-end, 7 205
Owners' Corporations were registered with the Land Registry.
The Home Affairs Department has established four Building
Management Resource Centres in Hong Kong, Kowloon and the New Territories
to enhance its services in building management. These centres provide
information, services and advice to building owners, residents, Owners'
Corporations, Mutual Aid Committees and management bodies so as to assist
them in improving the standards of management, safety and maintenance
of their buildings. In 2003, the four centres handled a total of 36
332 visitors, 46 091 enquiries and 283 appointments
for interviews with members of professional bodies.
Twenty Public Enquiry Service Centres are attached
to the District Offices, providing a wide range of free services to the
public. These services include answering general enquiries on government
services; distributing government forms and information; administering
oaths and declarations; and referring cases under the District Council
members' meet-the-public scheme, the Free Legal Advice Scheme and the
Rent Officer Scheme. The Public Enquiry Service Centres and the Central
Telephone Enquiry Centre served a total of 2.45 million clients in 2003.